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Full text of "Sketch of the fifty-eighth regiment (infantry) North Carolina troops"

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SKETCH 



OF THE 



Fifty-Eighth 
Regiment 

(INFANTRY) 

North Carolina Troops 



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LENOIR, N. C. 

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In preparing the following sketch as a contri- 
bution to the History of North Carolina 
Troops, official records have been consulted 
where accessible. The dates and other mem- 
oranda in many cases were obtained from the 
writer's personal journal, in which daily entries 
were made during the war. 

The part referring to the battle of Bentons- 
ville was written and published in 188,7, in 
the Raleigh ' ' Observer " and other papers in 
North Carolina and Tennessee. It is much 
to be regretted that repeated efforts failed to 
secure the pictures of more of the rank and 
file, and particularly of those devoted men, 
officers and privates who laid down their lives 
for their home land on the field of battle. 

The writer esteems it a privilege to bear 
witness to the courage, patience and endurance 
of his comrades, and he offers this imperfect 
sketch as an humble tribute to the high soldierly 
qualities which they uniformly displayed. 

G. W. F. Harper. 

Lenoir, N. C, March i, 1901. 




FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT. 

1. John B. Palmer, Colonel. 4. Isaac II. Bailey, Captain, Co. B. 

■2. Benjamin F. Baird, Captain, Co. D. 5. F. A. Tobey, Captain, Co. A. 

3. G. W. F. Harper, Major. 6. Drnry D. Coffey, Sergeant-Major. 







FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT. 

1. S. M. Silver, Lieut. -Colonel. 4. E. L. Moore, Sergeant, Co. E. 

2. L. W. Gilbert, Captain, Co. II. 5. J. L. Craig, Private, Co. H. 

3. E. H. Crump, Sergeant. Co. H. (Captured 1864. and died in prison.) 

. (Severely wounded at Chickamauga.) 6. A. C. Craig, Sergeant, Co. II. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/sketchoffiftyeigOOharp 



The Fifty-Eighth Regiment 

(Infantry) 

North Carolina Troops 

This Regiment was organized in Mitchell county, 
North Carolina, July 24, 1862, by the election of John B. 
Palmer, of Mitchell county, Colonel ; Wm. W. Proffitt, of 
Yancey county, Lieut. Colonel (resigned 1863) ; John C. 
Keener, of Yancey county, Major (resigned 1863). 

The Regiment was raised as a part of a Legion of 
the three arms of the service to be commanded by Col. 
Palmer. 

The field, staff and company officers and their suc- 
cessors, as appears in the Roster of North Carolina 
Troops, Vol. III., pp. 633, and Vol. IV., pp. 439, are as 
follows, the reference last named, however, through 
error of copyist or compositor, designates the Regiment 
after the reorganization, March, 1865, as the 60th, 
whereas it should have been given as the 58th and 60th 
Regiments consolidated. 

Lieutenant Colonels — Edmund Kirby, of Virginia, 
killed at Chickamauga September 20, 1863; Thomas J. 
Dula (resigned August 29, 1864); S. M. Silver, promoted 
from Major September, 1864 (resigned March, 1865); 
Thaddeus Coleman, commissioned March, 1865. 

Majors — T. J. Dula, wounded at Chickamauga, pro- 
moted to Lieut. Colonel August 14, 1864; A. T. Stewart, 



4 THE FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT 

killed at Jonesboro, Ga., August 31, 1864; S. M. Silver, 
promoted to Lieut. Colonel August 14, 1864; G. W. F. 
Harper, promoted November, 1864, from Captain Co. H. 

Adjutants — Edmund Kirby, of Virginia, promoted to 
Lieut. Colonel : Benj. L. Perry, Beaufort, N. C. ; Orville 
Ewing, Nashville, Tenn. 

Surgeons — W. A. Collett (resigned 1863), W. H. 
Harris. 

Assistant Surgeons — O. M. Lewis, T. J. Mitchell, 
Alonzo White. 

Quartermaster — M. J. Bearden. 

Sergeant Majors — H. Herndon ; Jas. Inglis, killed 
at Dalton, Ga. , February 24, 1864 ; D. D. Coffey. 

Quartermaster Sergeant — John E. Medaris, Cald- 
well county. 

Ordnance Sergeant — John A. Hensley, Yancey 
county. 

Drum Majors — H. Fstes, Caldwell county ; J. Cald- 
well Blair, Caldwell county. 

Hospital Steward — James M. Riddle, Mitchell 
county. 

Company A, from Mitchell County — Captains : Mar- 
tin Wiseman (resigned 1862), F. A. Tobey. Lieutenants : 
F. A. Tobey, W. H. Wiseman, killed at Chickamauga 
September 20, 1863 ; J. J. Wise, W. A. Vance. 

Company B, from Mitchell County — Captains : Jacob 
W. Bowman (resigned 1862), Isaac H. Bailey, severely 
wounded and permanently disabled at Chickamauga 



NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS 5 

September 20, 1863. Lieutenants: J. C. Conley, J. W. 
Pitman, I. H. Bailey. 

Company C, from Yancey County — Captain : S. W. 
Briggs. Lieutenants : M. P. Hampton, W. M. Austin, 
wounded at Chickamauga. 

Company D, from Watauga County — Captains : D. C. 
Harmon (resigned 1862), B. F. Baird. Lieutenants: B. 
F. Baird, W. P. Mast, D. F. Baird, A. F. Davis, W. M. 
Harrington. 

Company E, from Caldwell County — Captains : A. T. 
Stewart, promoted to Major and killed August 31, 1864 ; 
Thos. J. Coffey. Lieutenants : J. B. Marler,' T. J. 
Coffey,' W. E. Coffey (dropped). 

Company F, from McDowell County — Captains : W. 
Conley, died November, 1862 ; C. O. Conley, killed 
June, 1864, at New Hope Church, Ga. , H. C. Long. 
Lieutenants: C. O. Conley,- 1 J. D. Morrison, killed at 
Chickamauga September 20, 1863 ; J. A. Fox; T. P. Epps, 
R. H. Sisk, J. B. Morgan. 

Company G, from Watauga County — Captains : J. L. 
Phillips, wounded at Chickamauga and permanently dis- 
abled ; Jno. R. Norris, promoted from Lieutenant Sep- 
tember, 1863. Lieutenant: C. R. Byrd, wounded at 
Chickamauga. 

Company H, from Caldwell County — This company 
was raised for Z. B. Vance's Legion, enlarged by trans- 
fers from Companies F and I of the 26th North Carolina 
Regiment, and went into camp of instruction at Kitt- 
rell, N. C, May, 1862. 

The effort to raise and organize the Vance Legion 
being unsuccessful, this company was assigned to the 



6 THE FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT 

58th Regiment, which it joined at Johnson City, Tenn., 
August, 1862. 

Captains: T. J. Dula, promoted to Major; G. W. 
F. Harper, wounded at Resaca, Ga. , May 15, 1864; 
promoted to Major November, 1864. L. W. Gilbert. 
Lieutenants : W. W. Lenoir, promoted to Captain 37th 
Regiment July, 1862; G. W. F. Harper; E. M. Hedrick; 
A. D. Lingle; L. A. Page, killed at Dalton, Ga. , Febru- 
ary 20, 1864; L. W. Gilbert, promoted to Captain 
November, 1864. 

Company I, from Watauga County — Captains : 

Miller, Wm. R. Hodges, J. C. McGhee. Lieutenants : 
J. C. McGhee, W. S. Davis. 

Company K, from Mitchell County — Captains : S. M. 
Silver, promoted to Major; D. R. Silver. Lieutenants: 
J. W. Duncan, L. D. Silver. 

Company L, from Ashe County — Captains ; W. Gen- 
try, Calvin Eller, L. Hurley. Lieutenants : L. Hurley, 
E. Hurley, P. Blevins. 

Company M, from Watauga and Ashe Counties — 
This Company consolidated with Company G in 1863. 
Lieutenants : Geo. W. Hopkins, Thos. Ray, J. R. Morris. 



NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS 7 

The Regiment was moved September, 1862, to Cum- 
berland Gap and assigned to the Division of Gen. Steven- 
son, then investing that post. 

On the retreat of the Federal garrison, Col. Palmer 
was placed in command at the "Gap'' with his regiment, 
Caper's Georgia Battalion and a battery of artillery until 
the prisoners could be paroled and the captured stores 
secured, after which it moved into Kentucky, but unex- 
pectedly met Bragg's Army on its retreat. 

During the winter of 1862 and 1863 it was stationed 
at Big Creek Gap, near Jacksboro, Tenn., with the 55th 
Georgia, Thornton's Alabama Legion, Kolb's Alabama 
Battery and Baird's North Carolina Cavalry Battalion, the 
Brigade under the command of Col. Palmer. The winter 
was spent in outpost duty, picketing this and neighbor- 
ing passes in the Cumberland Mountains, and making 
several expeditions into Kentucky. The details for guard 
duty in this service were excessive, and the command 
suffered greatly from privation and exposure. The loss 
by death from disease was appalling, camp fever and an 
epidemic of measles being extremely fatal, the natural 
result of inexperience and a deplorable lack of hospital 
accommodations and facilities. 

In the summer of 1863 the Brigade was placed under 
the commnad of Gen. J. W. Frazer, and the troops were 
stationed at Clinton and various other points in East Ten- 
nessee, eventually joining the army of Tennessee, under 
Gen. Bragg, near Chattanooga, when the Regiment was 
assigned to Kelly's Brigade of Preston's Division in 
Buckner's Corps. 

In the battles of Chickamauga, September i8th-2oth, 
the Regiment bore a prominent part, and in the charge 
which captured the stronghold of the enemy on Snod- 



THE FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT 

grass Hill at the close of that eventful Sunday, the loss in 
killed and wounded was over one-half of those carried 
into action. The Lieutenant-Colonel, Edmund Kirby, of 
Virginia, was killed, and Colonel Palmer and Major Dula 
wounded ; Captains Bailey and Phillips severely wounded, 
Lieutenants Wiseman and Morrison killed, and Lieuten- 
ants Austin, Byrd and others wounded. In the capture 
of the prisoners, eight Colt's army rifles were taken, of 
which, by the order of Gen. Preston, four were turned 
over to the color guard of the 58th North Carolina, and 
two each to the 5th Kentucky and 63d Virginia Regi- 
ments, also of Kelly's Brigade. 

The report of Col. Palmer, made on the succeeding 
day, gives the names of the killed and wounded, and 
makes the loss in his regiment : killed, 46 ; wounded, 114; 
missing, 1 ; total, 161 ; over 50 per cent, of the number 
carried into action. 

It will be seen by referring to the official reports that 
the casualties in the regiment exceeded the combined loss 
of the other regiments of the Brigade. A steel tablet erected 
by the Chickamauga National Park Commission marks the 
position on the crest reached by the regiment at sunset, 
when the prisoners were captured and the battle ended, 
and bears the following inscription, to wit : 

"Kelly's Brigade. 

"Preston's Division — Buckner's Corps. 

" Col. John H. Kelly. 

"September 20, 1863, 7 P.M. Last Position. 

"65TH Georgia — Col. R. H. Moore. 

" 5th Kentucky — Col. Hiram Hawkins. 

" 58TH North Carolina — Col. John B. Palmer. 

" 63D Virginia — Maj. James M. French. 



NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS 9 

"The Brigade, the 65th Georgia being detached to 
"support a battery, re-enforced about 6 p.m. by a regiment 
"from Anderson's Brigade of Hindman's Division, after an 
"hour's severe fighting on the slope in front of the knoll 
" next left of this position, participated there at dusk, with 
"Trigg's Brigade, in the capture of the Union troops 
" occupying that knoll. Of these 251 were captured by 
" Kelly's Brigade. 

"This was accomplished by Kelly's Brigade charg- 
ing their front, while Trigg's Brigade swung across to 
" the ridge further to the left and closed up the Union line 
" from the rear. While the Union troops were surrender- 
"ing, the right of Kelly's Brigade received a volley from 
" the front of Van Derveer's Brigade of Brannan's Division. 
"This was about 7 p.m., and was the last firing in the 
"battle. 

"Strength in action 876. Casualties: killed, 62; 
"wounded, 238; missing, 29; total, 329. Percentage 
" of loss, 37. 55." 

Shortly after the battle Col. Palmer was detached 
from the Regiment and placed in command of the Depart- 
ment of Western North Carolina, with headquarters at 
Asheville, where he remained until the close of the war, 
the Regiment thereafter being under the command of a 
Lieutenant-Colonel or Major. Gen. Kelly was transferred 
to the cavalry, and Gen. A. W. Reynolds (" Old Gauley"), 
of Virginia, placed in command of the Brigade, now con- 
sisting of the 58th and 60th North Carolina, the 55th and 
63d Virginia and the 5th Kentucky Regiments, in Bush- 
rod Johnson's Division ot Longstreet's Corps, with which 
it began its march to Knoxville. Before proceeding far, 
however, the Brigade was recalled, November 2 2d, to 
take part in the battles then opening around Chattanooga, 
and deployed in a thin line, was placed in the trenches 
at foot of Missionary Ridge. Here it was annoyed by 



IO THE FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT 

the premature explosion of the shells from our batteries 
on the Ridge in rear, firing upon the enemy in front. A 
veteran of Company H, with a grim sense of humor, 
suggested to his captain that the command occupy the 
other side of the breastwork — a brisk musketry fire then 
coming from the enemy. The suggestion was not 
adopted. 

After three days in this position, with the larger part 
of the troops on duty day and night, the Regiment (one 
company at a time deployed in a skirmish line) was 
recalled to the top of the Ridge, the charge of the enemy 
being made as the last company moved out. The Con- 
federate line on the Ridge, a very thin one, with no 
reserve line, was broken — it seemed almost without a 
right — at a gap in the Ridge some distance north of the 
position occupied by the 58th, and the troops on this 
part of the line moved by orders to the rear and formed a 
line of battle across the road near the base of the Ridge. 
Here occurred the only stubborn fight the Regiment was 
engaged in during this battle. The opposing force, led 
by Gen. Sheridan in several charges was handsomely 
repulsed, the battle continuing under the light of a full 
moon until long after dark. Gen. Jno. C. Breckinridge, 
in command at this point, when the troops were with- 
drawn about midnight enquired for the Regiment then 
filing into the road, and being told, raised his hat and 
complimented the "tar heels" very highly on their part 
in the fight. 

The army went into winter quarters at Dal ton, Ga., 
under the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, in 
whom the army reposed unlimited confidence. 

On the 25th of February, 1864, Sherman pushed for- 
Avard a portion of his army to the front of Dalton, and 



NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS I I 

several partial engagements ensued before he retired. A 
number of casualties occurred in the 58th. Among the 
killed was James Inglis, Sergeant-Major, a Scotchman by 
birth, whose death was deeply regretted by his comrades. 

On the 7th of May, Sherman again appeared before 
Dalton, and after several ineffectual assaults on Johns- 
ton's line moved by his right flank, threatening Resaca, 
to which place the Army of Tennessee was withdrawn. 
On the 14th and 15th, in the general engagements at 
Resaca, the Regiment bore its full part and sustained 
serious loss in killed and wounded. The writer being 
here wounded, and disabled for service until the latter part 
of the summer, cannot give details of the Atlanta Cam- 
paign, in all the battles of which the Regiment in Rey- 
nold's Brigade, Stevenson's Division of Hood's Corps, 
participated. The loss in the numerous battles was con- 
siderable, and the published records are very incomplete. 

After the fall of Atlanta, the Brigade was consoli- 
dated with Brown's Tennessee Brigade, under Gen. Jos. 
B. Palmer, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., a gallant officer, 
under whom the Regiment in his Brigade served until the 
close of the war.* 

In the march to Nashville the garrison at Dalton was 
captured, and the railroad north of Atlanta destroyed in 
many places. The army crossed the Tennessee River at 
Florence, Ala., November 2d, but unfortunately for the 

* The careful reader will not confound the name of this officer 
with that of Col. John B Palmer, who raised the 58th Regiment and 
was its first commander. 

It is a singular coincidence that two officers bearing the same 
name and initials, and from different states, commanded the same 
Brigade. They were both most gallant and efficient officers, with- 
out fear and without reproach. 



12 THE FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT 

success of the expedition, was there held inactive until 
the 20th waiting for supplies. 

At Columbia, Tenn., the Regiment led the advance 
of S. D. Lee's Corps on the Mount Pleasant pike, pushing 
vigorously the retiring enemy, and on entering the town, 
was ordered to seize the fort overlooking it, the block 
house enclosed being on fire, and the small arms ammu- 
nition therein keeping up a rattling explosion. The men, 
without orders and with the indifference to danger that so 
often characterized them, carried out the boxes of ammu- 
nition, some of them blazing, and the fire was soon 
subdued. 

The town had been in the possession of the enemy 
for nearly two years, and the ladies were overjoyed to 
see the Southern Army, to which they were so loyal, and 
in which served so many of their relatives and friends. 
Our Tennessee brigadier rode at the head of the column, 
and the writer seeing him dismounted and affectionately 
embraced by females of all ages, congratulated him on 
meeting so many " kinfolks. " He said it was his mis- 
fortune not to be acquainted with any of them. The 
scattering shots of the skirmishers did not check the 
ovation. 

The Regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Silver, with 
the prisoners it had captured and others sent to it (alto- 
gether about 1,700), was left as a garrison for the fort 
and town, and thus missed the bloody battles at Frank- 
lin and Nashville, and later on Hood's disastrous retreat, 
by being ordered December 14th to Corinth, Miss., with 
the prisoners. 

At Corinth, relieved of the prisoners, it was sent 
December 26th to Okalona to drive off a cavalry raid 
which had cut the railroad near that point. 



NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS I 3 

On the return of the remnant of Hood's army to 
Tupelo, Miss., the Regiment rejoined the Brigade, now 
very small, and with it moved by rail to Branchville, S. 
C. , and February 4th again confronted Sherman. Nu- 
merous skirmishes occurred at the various crossings of 
North and South Edisto, in all cases the enemy being 
repulsed, only to find unoccupied or undefended points 
above or below at which they crossed. The Brigade 
reached the vicinity of Columbia on the 14th of February, 
'65, and was greatly disappointed in finding there no 
important reinforcements. The Regiment had the post 
of honor as rear guard, and held the south bank of the 
Congaree until the morning of the 16th, when it was 
withdrawn and the bridge burned. On the 16th the Bri- 
gade picketed the river bank, with its reserves in the 
nearest streets, receiving the fire of the enemy's skirmish- 
ers, which it was not permitted to return. The enemy, 
nevertheless, threw shells into the town, several of them 
striking the capitol, where their marks may still be seen. 
The following night the Brigade moved to near the forks 
of the Broad and Saluda to prevent the crossing of the 
enemy until trains could be taken out of the city, and on 
the 17th began its march. Leaving the railroad at Black- 
stocks and fording the Catawba at Landsford, the Brigade 
reached Charlotte on the 23d of February, from which 
point a week later it moved by rail to Smithfield Station 
(now Selma), where Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, reinstated 
in command, was endeavoring to concentrate his small 
army. 

The men thinly clad, carrying each a single blanket, 
without tents, and most of the time with scant rations, 
passed the severe winter of 1864-65 in active field ser- 
vice. In the prime of life, active, cheerful and full of 



14 THE FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT 

fun, living in the open air the year round, a great part of 
the time on the march, the men became inured to hard- 
ships and the winter's cold, and complaints of suffering 
from exposure to the weather were rarely heard. The 
question of rations gave them more concern. All of this 
applies also to the field and company officers, who were 
equally exposed with the private soldiers. 

A portion of the Army of Tennessee in detached com- 
mands arrived, and on the 1 8th of March, 1865, Gen. 
Johnston made a forced march to Bentonsville, where a 
concentration was effected with Hardee's Corps from 
Charleston, Hoke's Division and other troops from East- 
ern North Carolina. The presence of Gen. Johnston again 
in command of veteran troops inspired the fullest con- 
fidence in the small army, which engaged in the battles 
of the succeeding day in fine spirits. The 58th, in this, 
its last battle, numbered about 300 effectives. The Bri- 
gade (Palmer's) was selected as the directing column for 
the Army o.f Tennessee in the assault on the enemy's line. 
The charge was made with great spirit and dash, and the 
enemy entrenched and with a high fence built in their 
front, gave way before inflicting great loss on their assail- 
ants. In the pursuit which followed, two pieces of artil- 
lery, limbering with all haste to the rear, were captured 
and driven back into our lines with their teams complete. 
In running down and taking the guns some of the artil- 
lerymen were shot while on the chests, and the old pine 
field was strewn with blankets, provisions and plunder of 
all sorts thrown away by the flying foe. 

The rapid pursuit over fences and a deep ravine so 
scattered the attacking column that a halt was made to 
reform — this a half a mile or more beyond the entrench- 
ments charged, and there was not an enemy in sight nor 



NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS I 5 

a gun nearby being fired. Before the line was com- 
pletely adjusted the reserves came up in splendid order. 
Pettus' Brigade before in support of Palmer now took the 
advance, and in a short time struck the enemy reinforced 
in a new position. Our lines having become too short 
for the circle so extended by pushing back the enemy, 
most of the Regiments of Palmer's Brigade were promptly 
moved up to fill the gaps in the front line, which was 
now in the thick pine woods. 

The 58th North Carolina on the left of the Brigade, 
under the direction of a staff officer, was moved up in 
support of and close to the front line, here facing south, 
and at the time hotly engaged. Firing was also going 
on on the right, extending partly to the rear, but not so 
near, and a battery of artillery kept up a most aggravat- 
ing enfilade fire over the Regiment, which would have 
made the position extremely uncomfortable if the gunners 
had slightly depressed their pieces. As it was, very little 
could be seen for the smoke which filled the woods, and 
the ground gently rising toward the battery, their shells 
for an hour flew almost harmlessly through the timber 
some ten feet or more overhead, and most of them burst 
in rear. The incident following will give some idea 
of the situation. The brigadier, very shortly after the 
Regiment had reached the spot, rode up and asked, 
"Which is the right of your Regiment ? " A strange ques- 
tion from such a source at such a time the writer thought, 
but surprise was turned into amazement when the reply 
was quickly followed by the command : "Major, coun- 
termarch your Regiment." It seemed just a little un- 
necessary to remind him that the Regiment was already 
facing the enemy, who was close at hand, and being 
heard to that effect in a most convincing sort of way. 



1 6 THE FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT 

The major, however, did presume to say as much, only 
to hear, "Yes, I know, but I want you to look after 
these fellows over here,'' pointing over his shoulder to 
our rear and right. The Regiment was accordingly 
countermarched, halted on the spot and fronted — this 
time facing north, or opposite to the direction we had 
just before faced — dressed on a line of guides a little 
oblique to the original line and the men ordered to lie 
down for shelter ; Gen? Palmer the meanwhile quietly 
seated on his horse apparently unconscious that anything 
unusual was going on, although musket balls were flying 
pretty thick, and some of the enemy's shells must have 
passed near his head. After witnessing this singular 
manoeuvre, and leaving the 58th Regiment " to look after 
these fellows " as ordered, the general leisurely rode off 
to some other part of his Brigade on the front line, where 
the business in hand was not so dull and uninteresting. 
He did not have far to go. 

The slender line without earthworks that so nearly 
encircled our position, held its ground against repeated 
assaults of the enemy in heavy force until eight o'clock 
at night, when the firing ceased, and at midnight the 
army resumed the position of the morning. 

A more remarkable experience befell a detachment 
of Tennesseans of the Brigade. In filling a gap in the 
front line as stated, Colonel Searcey in command, found a 
flank of the enemy which he proceeded at once to turn 
and attack in reverse. Before the movement, which was 
being successfully accomplished, had proceeded very far, 
however, a Federal reserve appeared, closed the gap and 
cut off the return of the colonel with a part of his com- 
mand. The detachment thus cut off made its way suc- 
cessfully through Sherman's lines and near his trains, 



NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS 1 7 

capturing as they went an officer and forty men, to whom 
they were in the act of surrendering, but, discovering the 
small opposing force, the Tennesseans seized the guns 
which had been thrown down and compelled the sur- 
render of their would-be captors. The detachment 
marched with their prisoners through the woods and over 
obscure roads to Raleigh, and rejoined the Brigade near 
Smithfield ten days after the battle, greatly to the sur- 
prise and delight of their friends, who were ready to give 
them up as lost. 

The restoration of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to the 
command gave great confidence to the Army of Tennes- 
see, and the forward movement, as was generally the 
case, put the men in fine spirits and willing to attempt any 
duty that he would require of them. In illustration of the 
faith of the men in their chief : two days after the princi- 
pal battle, when Sherman's cavalry came so near seizing 
the bridge in the rear, the firing attracted attention, and 
some one asking "what that fire in rear of the army 
meant," the reply came promptly from the ranks of the 
58th in the most unconcerned manner, " Don't be uneasy, 
my son. Old Joe has a wagon train back there some- 
where, and there is no danger where HIT is." The gen- 
eral had well earned in the Atlanta Campaign a reputa- 
tion for taking care of his trains ; but for the opportune 
arrival here of Henderson's little brigade of Stevenson's 
Division, en route for the army, his prestige in that par- 
ticular, and perhaps in some others, might have been 
lost, together with our "spider wagons" and ordnance 
trains. 

In the list of the killed was the name of a young 

recruit, Augustin Green, from Watauga county, who came 

■Lrom his home to the Regiment the day before the battle. 



18 THE FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT 

In the ranks near this unfortunate man marched a vet- 
eran of the Mexican War and of the great Civil War. The 
one was taken and the other left. The old veteran came 
out of both wars unscathed, and, still living (1900), draws 
a pension for service in Mexico. 

On the 2 2d of March the army was withdrawn to the 
railroad near Smithfield. While encamped here the Army 
of Tennessee was reorganized, and companies, regiments 
and brigades, all now very small, were consolidated. 
The 58th and 60th Regiments were designated as the 58th 
and 60th North Carolina Battalion, with Lieut. -Col. 
Thaddeus M. Coleman and Maj. G. W. F. Harper as field 
officers. 

The army under Gen. Johnston marched April 10th 
from Smithfield via Raleigh, and on the 16th encamped at 
Greensboro. Here the Regiment was selected as a guard 
for the large accumulation of North Carolina quarter- 
master's stores, a duty that was faithfully discharged, the 
men being practically exempt from the demoralization 
which the pending surrender so generally developed. 
Gen. Johnston's General Order No. 18, announcing the 
surrender of the army, was received on the 27th of April. 
The paroles were received May 2d and distributed to the 
Regiment, which immediately, as an organized body, 
marched to Statesville, where it disbanded — some march- 
ing to their homes in Ashe and Watauga counties, the 
greater number taking the cars for Hickory and Icard 
Station, the latter then the terminus of the railroad. 

In the march from Greensboro one-third or more of 
the men, by order, retained their arms and forty rounds 
in the cartridge boxes. A small wagon carried a chest 
of reserve ammunition, a few rations, and after caring 
for any who might be sick, the blankets of the men. No 



NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS 1 9 

excesses or depredations were committed, and the men 
cheerfully responded to the orders of their officers, to 
whom, as all knew, respect and obedience could no 
longer be enforced. The conduct of the rank and file of 
the Regiment in the closing days of the war was in keep- 
ing with the fine soldierly qualities uniformly displayed 
by them throughout the long struggle, and reflects on all 
high credit and honor. On returning to their wasted 
homes, with rare exceptions, they proved themselves to 
be model citizens. 

A small fraction only of those who went forth in the 
sixties in response to the call of their country now (1900) 
survive — the others have joined the mighty and daily 
increasing host beyond the dark river, and there answer 
to the general roll call of the just and the unjust. 

Truth will rise in triumph, and impartial history will 
surely tell to an admiring world the story of the heroic 
struggle and "how ye fell." 

"Rest on embalmed and sainted dead." 

***** 

"Nor shall your glory be forgot 
While fame her record keeps, 
Or honor points the hallowed spot 
Where valor proudly sleeps." 



20 THE FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT 

As a sequel to the sketch of the 58th North Carolina 
Regiment we copy below the General Order of Maj. Gen. 
Stevenson and letters of Gen. J. E. Johnston and Gen. 
Jos. B. Palmer relating to the part taken by the Regiment 
in the Battle of Bentonsville. 

Gen. Pettus and Gen. Hampton survive, the former 
being a Senator in Congress from Alabama. Gen. Palmer 
and Gen. Johnston both died several year^ since. 

Headquarters Stevenson's Division. 
In the Fieee March 23, T865. 

General Orders No. ( ). 

The Major General commanding desires to extend 
his warmest congratulations and thanks to the officers 
and men of his command for their conduct during the 
recent operations of the army. 

Never was more dash and gallantry displayed than 
was exhibited by Palmer's Brigade in their successful 
assaults upon the breastworks of the enemy, and never 
were the high qualities of perfect coolness under fire and 
unwavering steadiness under numerous attacks of the 
enemy more nobly exemplified than by Pettus's Brigade. 

Gumming'" s Brigade, commanded by Col. Henderson, 
in the affair of 21st, .achieved by his gallantry a success 
almost without parallel, and which has entitled it to the 
admiration of the army. 

Fellow Soldiers : Let us continue this campaign as 
we have begun it and the armies of the Confederacy will 
be unable to produce a Division that can show a prouder 
record than yours. 

By command of Maj. Gen. Stevenson. 

John J. Reeves, A. A. G. 



NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS 



Washington, D. C. , January n, 1888. 

Major G. W. F. Harper. 

Dear Sir : — The newspaper slip containing your 
article on Palmer's Brigade at Bentonsville and the letter 
accompanying it were duly received, but at a time when 
press of business compelled me to postpone compliance 
with your request. 

I do not think, as you do, that the part taken by 
Cumming's Brigade, then commanded by Col. Hender- 
son, was a matter of luck. That Brigade was a part of 
at least 1,000 men that joined us from Charlotte that 
morning, and was made one of four little reserves, and 
was the nearest one to the point of attack on the Federal 
Division, in which part of Hampton's and all of Wheeler's 
cavalry joined — defeating that Division in a few minutes 
— before Taliaferro's Division and the three other reserves 
had a chance to join in the action. They were on the 
way to the place when it occurred. They and all of our 
cavalry made the wagons you mention quite safe, for they 
were fully able to dispose of one Federal Division. 

Thanking you cordially for your polite kindness in 
sending me your article, I am, 

Yours very truly, 

J. E. Johnston. 



2 2 THE FIFTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT 

Murfreesboro, Tenn. , January 10, 1888. 
Major G. IV. F. Harper. 

My Dear Major : — I have read with unusual satis- 
faction and pleasure your communication to the Raleigh 
"News and Observer" in relation to the battle of Ben- 
tonsville, N. C. , and especially as to the part taken by 
your Regiment, the 58th North Carolina, in that memor- 
able fight. Well do I remember the incidents you 
mention. 

The orders published by me at the time will show 
that it now gives me great pleasure to repeat that the 
58th and 60th North Carolina Regiments in this engage- 
ment behaved with distinguished gallantry, and won for 
themselves a merited fame, which will last as long as 
the historic fields of Bentonsville, will appear on the 
pages and in the annals still to be written of this grand 
old State, on whose soil her native sons have achieved 
such splendid distinction. 

Nearly twenty-three years have elapsed since the 
events occurred of which I am writing. Brief indeed as 
these years have really been, how much more so do they 
now appear in the retrospect ; before another like period 
will have passed over our heads, you and I, as well as 
most of the men of whom I write, will have "Paid the 
debt to time and nature and mortal custom ; " but I trust 
the good we have done or attempted will follow us. 



NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS 2$ 

It gives me great pleasure to hear from you. Our 
army association is still warmly cherished and remem- 
bered. Our North Carolina comrades are very pleas- 
antly remembered by the Tennessee part of the Brigade, 
many of whom are still living in this community. 

With great respect and best wishes for genuine pros- 
perity, I am, Major, 

Your friend truly, 

Jos. B. Palmer. 



UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



00032740534 



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